Topic Preview: Teaching Strategies for the Exceptional Child

by Genevieve Rivadelo

Teaching the exceptional child involves a paradigm shift in understanding what disability means and how it affects the way teachers should address the educational needs of children with exceptionalities. The World Bank (2008) has redefined disability as not being inherent in an individual, but is the result of society’s disabling attitude and practices towards people who are differently-abled. Barriers to learning arise from the inflexibility of the educational system to accommodate for the uniqueness in learners in terms of adapting educational goals, assessment, materials, and methods.

Differentiating instruction to meet every student’s diverse learning needs will allow the child with exceptionality to access the general education curriculum and optimize learning. This can be done in four ways namely thru 1) Curricular Modifications; (2) Instructional Accommodations; (3) Management Adaptations; and (4) Environmental Accommodations.

Examples of Curricular Modifications are expanding the core curriculum for the blind to include Braille instruction and Orientation & Mobility training, and integrating a Functional or Life-Skills Curriculum particularly for children with Mental Retardation. Instructional Accommodations include using multi-sensory approaches, direct instruction, the use of creative teaching aids, computer-facilitated instruction, and concrete learning experiences for children with Autism. Management Adaptations involve enforcing classroom rules, having pre-established consequences for misbehavior and encouraging leadership for children with AD/HD. Environmental Accommodations consist of having a structured, predictable, and welcoming environment that is PWD – friendly and is conducive for small-group instruction particularly for children who are blind and those with multiple disabilities.

The success of any educational program relies on ‘good teaching,’ regardless of whether the child has an exceptionality or not, or the kind of disability he/she is diagnosed with. What matters most is for teachers to value the individuality of every child and find ways to demonstrate their commitment to teach even the most difficult of learners.


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